National Park(ing)

Castle

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Everyone’s “everyday” consists of a different makeup, a different routine. Places, on the other hand, remain constant. I explore these everyday places in order to ground viewers in an area with which they are familiar, to give them a sense of reality. My images, however, try to capture the surreal in these places of reality. I want to show the parts that are ignored, the areas that seem to be so commonplace that one wouldn’t think anything odd could possibly exist there. When I take photos, I look to deconstruct an everyday area to show its quirks, oddities, and most importantly, the aspects that make it surreal.

Digital photography is my medium. For this project, I limited myself to a single parking garage and explored it as well as the surrounding area. Every photo is taken of, or from, this garage at night. I used a tripod to keep the images clear and crisp to capture the location’s inherent surrealism, letting darker areas become illuminated and bright ones become blown out or flared up.…

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There’s No Place Like Home

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Wow. Gone Home shattered all my assumptions about video games. But before I get into that let me offer two disclaimers. One, this is, in fact, the first video game I have every played from start to finish (unless you count a round of Super Mario Kart) and the first video game I have ever owned. Second, I will be talking about my personal life in connection to this game. If that makes your skin itch, I’m sorry.

In the hyper-masculine realm of popular video games, violence is king. Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Diablo, etc. Games are marketed to men and use female characters as pawns to drive the story and to develop the male protagonist’s character. Women in games are not independent or their own characters, but are rather devices marketed to men. This often means that the female character is killed just to give the male character depth or purpose. In addition there is the completely unacceptable sexual violence in Grand Theft Auto where players are REWARDED for raping women, blatantly encouraging rape culture.…

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In Memoriam: Winter 2015

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Frank Miller’s Martha Washington

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Writer and artist Frank Miller is a sort of paradoxical figure among comic book readers. On the one hand, he wrote The Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One. I mean, he basically invented the modern Batman. Those titles, along with his Daredevil run, helped usher in comic books “adult” enough for us to read in classes. But it’s also pretty widely understood that Miller is kind of, vaguely, a fascist. And sort of a racist. And I guess if we’re going to get into it, he’s not particularly fond of gay or disabled people either. It also seems really hard for him to write a female character who isn’t a sex worker and he certainly doesn’t like Muslims. These exaggerated, though not entirely unfounded, accusations make for awkward conversations about the roots of modern comics. Though Miller’s written some of the greats, he’s also written a few of the worst. Miller is thus one of the last people we would expect to write a strong, believable woman of color as a main character or deal with real social issues without being preachy or disrespectful.…

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Earnestness: Glatzer & Westmoreland’s Still Alice

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Pauline Kael wrote, after seeing Shoeshine (1946): “I came out of the theater, tears streaming, and overheard the petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend, ‘Well I don’t see what was so special about that movie.’ I walked up the street, crying blindly, no longer certain whether my tears were for the tragedy on the screen, the hopelessness I felt for myself, or the alienation I felt from those who could not experience the radiance of Shoeshine. For if people cannot feel Shoeshine, what can they feel?”

A similar experience for me happened when watching Still Alice; a heartwrenching existential play written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. …

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Insomnia

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Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, The Wrath of God

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“After the Spaniards had conquered and sacked the Inca realm, the sorely oppressed Indians invented the legend of a golden kingdom El Dorado. Its alleged location was in the impenetrable bogs of the Amazon tributaries. Near the end of the year 1560, a large expedition of Spanish adventurers under the leadership of Gonzalo Pizarro set off from the Peruvian sierras. The only document to survive from this lost expedition is the diary of the monk Gaspar de Carvajal.”

This is the text preceding Werner Herzog’s 1972 film Aguirre, The Wrath of God and, though Herzog claims historians repeatedly ask him where he found these documents, it doesn’t claim to be anything more than a fabrication–which it is. How could it be anything else? Certainly Don Lope de Aguirre, Gonzalo Pizzaro, and Gaspar de Carvajal were real people, but the story itself, its cinematic presentation, chronicles a megalomaniacal odyssey through the gates of hell. The Spanish conquistadors, spurred onward by their hubris and insatiable desire, rush through the dense Amazonian tributaries toward El Dorado as quickly as the current will carry them.…

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